By Jason Arline
The history of hip-hop is riddled with moments in which the music was seen as less than tolerable by the media. From the early days when hip-hop was forced to be performed in parks and alleys because the disco clubs wouldn’t play “kid” music, to the ‘90s era when gangster rap was seen as the cause of violence and civil unrest, hip-hop has always been the genre of music that is seen as the unruly little brother, despite it being the number one genre in the world.
Hip-Hop artists are more than just artists: they are representatives of their communities who bring issues to light via their own experiences in order to inspire their fans. Conscious rappers like Common, Lupe Fiasco, J.Cole, Noname and Kendrick Lamar all remain vocal in what they believe is best for their communities through their music, which is the foundation of what hip-hop is.
Prominent conscious rapper, Killer Mike, has seen increased media attention surrounding police brutality and the Black Lives Matter protest. While being one half of the popular rap duo Run The Jewels, commonly written as RTJ, Killer Mike along with fellow rapper and producer El-P had attained the status of superstardom leading up to 2020 and the release of RTJ4.
Killer Mike is a man who, while large in stature, is even larger by how he fills a room with his presence as an intelligent leader of his community. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Killer Mike spoke at a press conference alongside Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms on how violence was not the answer and that the community should look for other ways to create lasting change in the system.
Following the killing of Rayshard Brooks, Killer Mike advocated for the black community to form a political pact to take root in local political positions. This way the black community has a say in what laws are enacted and can protect their rights in this country.
Killer Mike asks those who seek lasting change to first make sure they are counted in the census, and second, to make it their duty to vote both locally and nationally.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Killer Mike pointed out that rap is one of the only genres ahead of the social curve. He said that almost every rapper has spoken about police brutality at some point and listed rappers like Future, Tupac and Eminem.
Rappers are also the reason why cities like Houston and Atlanta have such prominent nightlife. It’s the music and arts that have made hip-hop and R&B America’s number one cultural export. With the money made from entertainment, Killer Mike believes that rappers and athletes have a responsibility to support their local community by supporting business and participating in political activism.
Now more than ever, the voices of the black community must be heard as we fight for our rights to live in this country. Killer Mike, rappers, and prominent people of color everywhere are key to building a bridge to prosperity within this country.
Both the music and people have said that they want change, but the only way change can be made is by coming together and taking political action, just as Killer Mike has said through his music and his speech.
Featured image by Scott Dudelson.